THE CLIMB up to the Cow and Calf Rocks at Ilkley promises to be the most exciting stretch of next year’s Tour de Yorkshire and no one in recent times has ridden it faster than Tom Moses.

That’s at least according to the popular athlete social network Strava, whose league table of best times sees the Oakworth professional cyclist top above more than 7,400 riders.

He clocked an impressive time of five minutes four seconds in June this year up the 1.2 mile stretch, which features an average gradient of seven per cent and just short of 500 feet of elevation.

His achievement puts him above some illustrious names, including none other than reigning road race Olympic champion and UCI World Tour number one Belgian Greg Van Avermaet.

But he does not expect it to last beyond next year’s fourth edition of the Tour de Yorkshire when the second-stage climb from Ilkley will provide the event’s first ever summit finish.

Moses said: “It is one of the climbs that is good for me as short five-minute climbs are usually my thing.

“I’ve got the all-time Cow and Calf Strava record for it but I think that might go on the day of the race.”

In fact, the JLT Condor rider expects his record to be smashed as the calibre of rider in the Tour de Yorkshire – which has an added fourth stage next year – continues to grow.

The race attracts some of the best in the world, with the top teams now regarding the race as preparation for the Tour de France.

Moses said: “My best time is just over five minutes but I reckon the winner (of the second stage) will be going up it in about 4½ minutes or even four minutes 15 seconds. It will be ridiculous and there will be no holding back.”

Totalling 149km, the Day Two route starts in Barnsley and works its way from south Yorkshire to Otley, after another climb up Old Pool Bank, before the final stretch up Cowpasture Road from Ilkley town centre to the iconic rocks.

Moses reckons the climax will not only be thrilling but also pivotal in terms of the overall race.

He said: “The main decisive stage will come on the Cow and Calf just because of the finish.

“I think the winner could well come on the Cow and Calf – that’s where you can put a gap into people. If you’ve won there you are probably going to be in the front group at the end on that last day.

“It should be a really good finish to the stage as you can see it from so many places and riders will just be going all out.

“It’s not an out-and-out climb because it is so short. It’s only five minutes long so there will be a fair few people who will fancy their chances on it – not sprinters but Classics-type riders.

“People are going to be going from the bottom all out as hard as they can and it will be interesting.”

First established in 2009, the website and mobile app Strava has provided cyclists – both elite and amateur – with incentive and competition by tracking rides via satellite navigation.

It has created a mammoth database of best times on route segments, where riders aim for the cudos of being King of the Mountains for a particular stretch.

Other notable names below Moses on the Strava list of best times up the Cow and Calf include top Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk, departing JLT team-mate Steve Lampier and Burley-in-Wharfedale’s Scott Thwaites, who is set to be competing alongside Mark Cavendish in the Tour de Yorkshire for Team Dimension Data.

Whether or not he will still boast the Strava KOM time come the big day on Friday, May 4, local knowledge of a stretch he knows like the back of his hand will only help.

The 25-year-old said: “You know where you need to go hard and you know what’s coming up.

“Sometimes when you are going up a hill flat out and you don’t know what’s coming round the corner, it can be a bit daunting.

“When riders come round the corner over the cattlegrid, they will see it going up really steep and might not be ready for it but we know what is coming.”